The Women’s Studies Center emerged from the womb of the Palestinian women’s movement at the peak of the Palestinian national struggle. It was established in 1989 during the first Intifada, a significant period in the history of the Palestinian national movement characterized by the mobilization of grass root organizations and the masses who engaged in the Intifada. Women played an active role in the struggle to achieve national liberation in the belief that national freedom and liberation are linked to social freedom, and both are closely related to economic freedom. We as women also believe that “freedom has one gate that can only be opened by free people”.
The founders of this Center were activists from women’s organizations who wanted to raise questions about the conditions of women and the obstacles that hampered their access to various community resources from which men benefited. Research was the first step and we hoped to create programs based on research for adoption by the various women’s movements working in the field. Although some research was published, the results were not transformed into programs for the defense of women’s rights because the national priorities imposed by the first Intifada took precedence.
We decided to change the Center from focusing on research to using research as a strategy for action, while also taking into account other strategies that enrich female mobilization. We started work on awareness strategies, capacity building, empowerment, and advocacy and lobbying. As the years went by, we expanded to become the leading Center that exists today. Our activities address the following issues:
- Changing the male discourse of exclusion into one that respects women’s rights;
- Developing and adopting strategies that combat sexual violence committed against young women and young people in general;
- Exposing the dynamic relationship between the occupation policies and gender, and seeking strategies that assist women to cope with crises resulting from bereavement;
- Enabling young women to pursue their university education;
- Empowering women economically;
- Developing community awareness of the issue of violence committed against women in all its forms;
- Employing our expertise to disseminate gender awareness in other NGOs and government institutions.
In this field, the Center implements several permanent programs that are developed on a regular basis. We hope that all relevant parties will cooperate with these programs to disseminate gender awareness. Gender represents an aspect of liberation by promoting a critical and enlightened movement free from domination and paternal systems, and from concepts and beliefs that consolidate the formation of social structures on the basis of inequality. Gender-based discrimination obstructs the process of national liberation and development.
We welcome all feedback on our webpage to develop our work further and contribute to empowerment and liberation.